Helping people maximize their God-given potential

30 Minutes! — June 20, 2015

30 Minutes!

The other day I started reading a new book called Start by Jon Acuff. I picked the book up for two reasons: one, a friend of mine had mentioned one of his other books and I found this one instead. Two, at the beginning of 2015 I set a goal for myself to write a book… and, well it’s now June and I’m struggling. I really thought I would be further along by this point. I’m not sure what the problem is… I feel like I have something good to say, a target audience, a clear direction, but I am not writing.

The premise of Acuff’s book is how to move from average to awesome. The first few chapters were were motivating and kept my attention. But then it happen. It seems that every book has at least one idea that makes it worth it’s price. I found this idea in chapter 4, “Thirty Minutes”. These words… seemed so easy. So short. Thirty minutes! Jon writes,

“If your dream is not worth thirty minutes, you’ve either got the wrong dream or you’re just pretending you have one.”

OUCH! If you’re not willing to give thirty minutes, “then you may not be ready for awesome.” OUCH AGAIN!

I haven’t been giving my book thirty minutes a day, I thought to myself. What does that mean?! Am I pretending? Do I have the wrong dream? No, I thought. I really do want to write a book, I have for several years. It must mean that I haven’t been ready to do what is needed to write a book. And there it is… the truth. Don’t you hate the truth sometimes? It’s so hard to come to grips with the truth!  The truth was this… I have been lazy. I have been making excuses. I have rationalized my inactivity. The NBA finals was on! I have not been ready to do what “Awesome” takes!

Thirty minutes. Can I do thirty minutes a day? Can you do thirty minutes? Doesn’t sound like too much, does it? I do it for other important goals I have for my life. Sounds doable. Jon writes, “I can say without a shadow of a doubt if I hadn’t found those thirty minutes, I never would have written four books.”

So, my new commitment is to claim thirty minutes every day to write. In the morning, when I am at my best. Will it work? Not sure. Lets find out. If it works I will be giving Jon Acuff much credit for helping me to reach my goal.

Action is the Real Measure of Intelligence- Napoleon Hill — June 2, 2015

Action is the Real Measure of Intelligence- Napoleon Hill

From our moment of birth we are expected to make progress in reasonable time. If fact, if we don’t people get concerned, very concerned! And they should, because a lack of progress means something is terribly wrong. We are to be growing and maturing from the very start and continue to make progress in our adult years. But so few people do. Why? Well, for starters we don’t have a clear picture of the progress we want to make. We are unclear on what skill we need to develop, what language we need to learn, or the bad habit that needs to be overcome. If we want to make progress we must first get clear on the change we need to make. This gives us a target to shoot for.

But what comes next? Even those who know the changes that need to be made struggle mightily to make them. Few people change.

The main reason we fail to make progress is because we fail to take the necessary action. Struggling couples don’t learn the relational skills needed to overcome theirs squabbles. Addicts don’t go to their AA meetings or do their readings. People who are overweight don’t put themselves on the right eating plan or they don’t stick to it. We don’t pray or read the scripture. Change always requires action. If you want to get different results we must take different actions. People who make significant progress as the years go by are action-oriented. Jack Canfield, the famed author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series wrote, “Nothing happens until you take action.”

Action is the evidence that you have really made a decision to change. Action proves that you have more than good intentions! Tony Robbins put it this way,

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

The harsh reality is that EVERYONE has good intentions, but FEW people make progress.

If you want to be among the few who make significant progress as the years pass, if you want to be somewhere different financially, relationally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually you must take action. Napoleon Hill said, “Action is the real measure of intelligence.” Ouch!

Where do you need to make progress?

What actions do you need to take in order to make progress?

Reasonable Progress — June 1, 2015

Reasonable Progress

Reasonable Progress in Reasonable Time

Jim Rohn said, “Life expects us to make a reasonable amount of progress in a reasonable amount of time. That’s why they make those second grade chairs so small.” It would be really strange to walk into a school and see a 17-year-old sitting in a chair made for a second grader. If we saw that we would all agree something had gone terribly wrong developmentally.

We are created to make progress and I am sure that we would all love to make progress in a few important areas of our lives… however, if you have lived for any length of time, you know progress is hard to come by. What is the problem?

I believe that deep down everyone wants to make progress. The businessperson, the body builder, the musician, the investor, the teacher, the pastor, the runner, the politician, and the parent alike all desire progress. To make progress means to advance, grow, or develop. It implies continuous improvement. As I reflect on each day I realize what I am looking for… progress. I am looking for signs of progress in my marriage, my physical fitness, my walk with God, the Church I lead and the development of my children. I believe you are the same.

This is right and good. God created us to grow and to reach our full potential. Why don’t more people make progress then? Why is it so hard to grow and develop?

Well, part of the problem is that most people simply don’t know what they are shooting for. We are not clear on the progress we would like to make. It has been rightly said that, “you’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be.” The starting point of making progress in any area of your life is knowing where you would “rather be”. If we want to change we must decide in our mind what the change looks like. Do you want your children to be more obedient? Do you want more financial margin? Do you want to become financially independent? Is it better physical fitness you desire? Or maybe you just want to look better? Do you want to get rid of bitterness and resentment? Do you want a deeper marriage relationship with high trust and connection? Do you want to be more generous towards others? Do you wish to have more patience, a thinner waistline, or simply more inner peace?

You and I cannot hit a target we don’t have. If we don’t know with certainty where we would “rather be” we will have no chance of getting there. We must first know the change we want. We must see it with clarity. Only then will we have a chance to move toward that place and make progress.

Where do you wish to make progress?

What does that progress look like? Describe the change you desire with precision.

Is that all? — November 11, 2014

Is that all?

Unfortunately the message of Christianity has often been reduced to “going to heaven when you die.” The offer seems to be, ‘place your faith in Christ so that you can have your sins forgiven, so when you die…you get in!’ Although this is true, that’s not all there is – there is so much more!

The result of this reduced message is that many Christians live spiritually impotent lives with very little joy, peace, strength and satisfaction. Many Christ followers are plagued with high levels of anger, lust, fear, jealousy and worry. Their faith has very little impact on their ‘before heaven’ life.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
In this passage Jesus is not talking about heaven, but the life we are living right now. The offer for anyone who wishes is “rest of soul”…deep peace, joy, contentment, and anxiety-free living. He came to bring us the same kind of life He lived when He walked the earth.

When Jesus began preaching, his message was simple, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Jesus came into the world to make the Kingdom of God available to anyone who wishes to enter. We can better understand what Jesus meant by this statement when we consider that we all have mini-kingdoms…our house, our bedroom, our cubicle or office. Our “kingdom” is the place where we have complete control or say over what happens. Our kingdom is the place where our will is done. Dallas Willard explains, “God’s kingdom is the effective range of His will, where God gets what God wants.” What Jesus is really offering us is the opportunity to partner with God to bring about His will on earth, here and now. WOW! This is so much more than “going to heaven when you die.” God invites you and I into His current rule of the earth…to bring about His will and to expand His Kingdom. Jesus made this clear when he gave us what has become known as the Lord’s prayer. Jesus said we are to pray that, “Your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Our calling, mission, and opportunity is to live with God in His kingdom right now! To partner with Him to expand the effective range of His will. This is the abundant life, the most exciting, fulfilling, and satisfying life available to us.

Will you enter in?

Abundant Life is the offer. — November 4, 2014

Abundant Life is the offer.

When I was a growing up my parents would take my brothers and I to an incredible water park in New Jersey called Action Park over summer break. This water park had every imaginable water ride and slide. The time leading up to our day at the water park was filled with anticipation and excitement. The night before, I would find myself so overwhelmed with joy that I could not sleep. For a 10 year old boy, the water park was heaven on earth! Perhaps you have had a similar experience. Maybe it was on the night before your wedding or the night before your first child was born.

In John 10:10 Jesus said, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus came to bring us a rich and satisfying life, more and better life than we ever dreamed of. A life of happiness, fulfillment, purpose and satisfaction.

You and I were born into this world with “bios” or physical life. What we lack is “zoe” or spiritual life. John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples wrote, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) Jesus explained to a man named Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again” (John 3:3) in order to experience the Kingdom of God. Jesus came into the world to bring us true life.

The word “abundant” means to have more than enough of something. It is a certain quality of life, a superabundance of life. The word describes a cup that is overflowing. This is the life you and I were created for…a life overflowing with joy, peace, love and hope. You and I were created for zoe, not just bios.

This world is a thirsty place. We are all looking for happiness and satisfaction. It doesn’t matter if its fantasy football, a holiday sale, alcohol, food, sleep, drugs, or pornography. It was Blaise Pascal who wrote “All men seek happiness. This is without exception…the will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even those who hang themselves.” Ultimately, our water park experinces are a foreshadowing of the Real Thing we were made for.

Jesus offers this invitation to all, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” (John 7:37-38)
True lasting, satisfying life is found in a relationship with Christ. Will you turn to him?

Stories — July 10, 2014


During my ‘stay-cation’ this past weekend, I was studying and reading at a favorite spot of mine, Barnes & Noble, in Greenwood. As I concentrated on writing notes for my next talk, my attention was directed to the café area by a man’s voice a few tables over…“Excuse me, are you Danny?” When I answered in the affirmative I found out that the man questioning me (we’ll call him Joe) was a man with a story. And it just so happens that his story was one of my very favorite kinds to hear: It started with him telling me how he had completely blown up his life and basically hit rock bottom. It ended with him being invited to attend Emmanuel, accepting Christ, receiving a Bible, and seeing God start to change his life. Joe was on the receiving end of a restraining order from his wife, he had major anger issues, and had lost everyone important to him. At his lowest point he made the decision to come to our church and God met him there. To quote Joe, “I have been a horrible sinner throughout my life, but I now have a new lease and I choose God.”

The greatest part of this story is that it has happened and CONTINUES to happen time and time again across both of our campuses. I hear from people in the church, our staff members, and people in the community constantly about stories of life change. I hear about restored marriages, addictions that were finally overcome, intense care given through loss or illness, and lives that have done a 180 from walking a path of darkness, selfishness, and despair to lives of grace, hope, and peace in Jesus. These stories are why we exist. God has called us to share the Good News and create environments where He can penetrate the hearts of even the most “horrible sinners.”

Joe’s story reminds me of another in Luke 19. Verse 10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Jesus speaks this to a man named Zacchaeus, a tax collector and known sinner. Most of us know the story – a man, short in stature, climbs a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. Not only did Jesus see him, but He went to stay at Zac’s house, an act of intimate fellowship and acceptance.

The truth is, we are all lost. And just like Jesus stopped to meet Zacchaeus right where he was before he cleaned up his act, He longs to meet with all of us and to have intimate fellowship with us through a personal relationship.

Our vision at Emmanuel is to ‘See People Come to Christ and Grow in Christ.’ God is continuing to blow us away week after week as we hear how He is meeting people right where they are and changing their forevers. We want to shatter people’s expectations of church by being a community full of grace, love, and truth where people hear messages that are relevant to their lives. And just like Joe from Barnes and Noble in Greenwood, and Zacchaeus from thousands of years ago in the Bible, I believe God will continue reach down into real individual’s lives and start to change them from the inside-out.

That is why we are crazy about you investing in the people who are far from God in YOUR life and inviting them! When we partner with God and boldly extend invitations to hear the Gospel, we give people a chance to turn from their sin and live life abundantly, life to the max! (John 10:10)

Four Benefits of Integrity — June 11, 2014

Four Benefits of Integrity

Not many of us would disagree that our world would be a better place if people lived with integrity. The damage caused by a lack of integrity today is seen everywhere. All a person has to do is watch the news and hear about a professional athlete, who everyone thought was the “real deal”, do something that is shocking to the public. Hearing about a politician, a business person or a pastor doing something that is unethical or illegal is commonplace today. A lack of integrity also hits close to home as well, whether it’s a friend who betrays us or our even a spouse.
The duplicity that is prevalent in our world today comes with a huge cost. The price we pay is a loss of trust. Trust is absolutely essential in order for a society, a business, or a relationship to function well. Its simple: no integrity equals no trust. For a comprehensive look at how much a lack of trust costs society, business, and relationships read The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey Jr.

What is integrity anyway?
Integrity is when our behavior matches our beliefs. It’s when what you say and what you do match up. You have integrity when your private life and your public life align. It’s when you walk your talk or, in other words, you practice what you preach.
A great example from history of a person who demonstrated incredible integrity is Rosa Parks. On the evening of December 1st, 1955 Rosa parks took her seat on a bus after a long day of work. The bus was full that day. At that time the Alabama law required that a black person was to give up their seat for a white person and that the blacks could only sit in the back of the bus. Not on this occasion…Rosa Parks did not believe that she was less important or less worthy than a white person. She refused to get up! She was quickly arrested for civil disobedience; an act that lead to a 381 day boycott of the Alabama bus system which, in turn, lead to a 1956 Supreme court decision banning segregation on public transportation! Rosa Parks’ one courageous act of integrity went on to spark the Civil Rights movement. What an inspiration!

Why live a life of integrity?
1. Integrity keeps you close to God.
It was King David of ancient Israel who wrote, “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.” (Psalm 24:3-4).
Think of it this way, parents try to instill in their children certain values and principles. When the children act in accordance to those values, the parents are pleased and all is well. If the children don’t, well… all is not well. It works in a similar way with our heavenly Father.

2. Integrity guides your life.
It was King David’s son Solomon who wrote these words: “The integrity of the upright guides them…” (Proverbs 11:3)
When values and principles like love for God, love for others, honesty, generosity, courage, and a deep sense of right and wrong become part of our character, they guide us through the rest of our lives. We come to our beliefs and convictions and then they guide us for the rest of our lives.

3. Integrity brings constant peace.
There is a French proverb that says, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” Imagine living life where you never have to worry about getting caught. Imagine never having to worry about getting found out…by the boss, your friend, your spouse. Imagine having no secret; no worries about being exposed. We all want that.

4. Integrity earns us trust and influence.
As I have already mentioned, where there is little or no integrity, there is no trust. Relationships fail, businesses fail, politicians don’t get elected. But with integrity great things can happen. Because of high levels of trust parents can have an incredible influence with their children, teaches can influence their students, husbands and wives can enjoy deep levels of intimacy and businesses can sell their products. All of this is possible because of trust.

To receive more practical help for your life, join us at Emmanuel Church. Find out more at eclife.org!

5 Things for the New Year — January 3, 2014

5 Things for the New Year

The start of a new year is the perfect time to make some changes to your life. January brings with it a sense of starting fresh or having a clean slate. In order to make lasting changes in our lives (relationships, diet, exercise, getting  out of debt) we must feed our minds new thoughts. When we think differently we will act differently. Perspective always drives behavior. Here are five helpful thoughts to catapult you into a new year and potentially a new you…

1. “Clear your mind of ‘can’t’.”  – Samuel Johnson

2. “The brain is a goal-seeking organism.”  – Jack Canfield

3. “Schedule your time use for the next twenty-four hours and stick to that chart. Do it once, and it will be easier the next time.”  – Napoleon Hill

4. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”  – Jim Rohn

5. “You can make anything happen if you commit to take it and take persistent action.”  – Tony Robbins

As you seek to make changes in your life always remember this principle: perspective drives behavior.
Happy New Year!

Problems, go away! — June 28, 2013

Problems, go away!

The other day I went out for a bike ride. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon. I had been looking forward to the ride all day. When I began, everything was perfect…and then, about a mile into the ride, boom! I got a flat! I thought: “Man, all I want is to have a little fun in my day, and all I get is a problem!” Do you ever feel that way? Sometimes I just want my problems to go away.

We all face problems in our lives – problems with a family member, problems with a co-worker, health problems, money problems, problems in our marriage and home, problems with our schedules, and the list goes on…  Being good at problem solving is an essential skill to living a good life.

So, how do you become a better problem solver?

1. Learn to anticipate problems.

Most people function with the expectation that there will be no problems or minimal problems. But if you have lived for any length of time you know this is simply not true. Reality is full of problems, large and small. People who are unwilling to adjust to this truth will inevitably spend most of their life in a frustrated state of mind.

People who enjoy a good life anticipate and expect problems. They are not shocked or thrown off when they arise. The assumption is that there WILL be problems.

When you think a situation will work out one way, you have to always be prepared for the fact that it may not all come together the exact way you want it to.  In fact, the probability that it won’t is pretty high.  You have to know that things are not always going to go according to plan.  Anticipate the problem and be ready to improvise.

2. Define the problem.

Ask yourself: What do I see going wrong? What are the specific symptoms? What is really happening?  That way, you know what you’re really working with.

3. Identify the root cause of the problem.

There are 3 types of root causes. A physical cause is something that is tangible, material. Some item failed in some way (for example, a car’s brakes stopped working). A human cause is basically human error.  Someone did something wrong, or did not do something that was needed. Human causes often lead to physical causes (for example, no one filled the brake fluid, which led to the brakes failing). Or there are organizational causes.  This is when a system, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty (for example, no one person was responsible for vehicle maintenance, and everyone assumed someone else had filled the brake fluid).

When identifying the root cause, just keep asking the question: “Why”?  When you keep asking ‘why’, eventually it will lead you to the source, the first misstep.

4. Brainstorm!

Think through the problem and come up with a list of ways to fix it. It was Grenville Kleiser who said, “To every problem there is already a solution whether you know what it is or not.” Don’t be afraid to get some smart people you trust to help you brainstorm. They will often see a solution that you don’t.  Then evaluate and select the solution that will work best.  Ask yourself which solution has the most potential to work and go with it.

5. Implement the solution.

Norman Bushnell said “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference.” It’s not enough to brainstorm. You must act and execute your plan of action.

Again, life is full of problems, large and small. Problem solving is therefore a critical skill to living. The good news is that it is just like any other skill… you can get better and better at it over time with practice. Follow these steps and you will improve your life.

Staying Motivated — November 19, 2012

Staying Motivated

I have learned that most people find it hard to stay motivated in key areas of life like their:

  • Spiritual life.
  • Career life.
  • Physical health.
  • Marriage.
  • Parenting.
  • Finances.

Many people do not have a problem getting motivated… it’s staying motivated that is the problem. Think about that time when you got all excited about a new initiative, a new diet, or a new exercise plan. You most likely had high motivation levels in the beginning, but then life gets busy, things happen and you loose steam.

How does one stay motivated?

I have used these four practices to stay motivated in key areas of my life:

 1. Begin every day with positive thoughts.

I wake up and begin my day with the most positive thoughts I can find. For years now I have followed a daily Bible reading program. I spend about 25 minutes reading the Bible and then I write down what inspired me. This practice has kept me motivated for years to stay close to God and far away from unwise and sinful behavior.

After I read my Bible I spend another 25-30 minutes reading or listening to something else that is incredibly motivating. There are plenty of wonderful books and podcasts available today for this use.

 2. Set goals.

It has been proven time and time again that setting goals can be incredibly motivating. Goals keep you focused and moving forward in the key areas of life that you have identified as important. I recommend that everyone set goals for every area of their life. You can set goals in your relationships, your career, your finances, and your physical health.

Goals call your attention back to why you should even wake up in the morning. The motivation comes as you begin to see progress in your goals. Progress is the key, so be sure to set goals that are attainable. Otherwise your goals can have the opposite effect and end up discouraging you.

 3. Use a tracking system.

If you track your progress every day with a journal or an app on your phone, you are more likely to stay motivated. Again, it is progress that we love. Recently I set a fitness goal of running 140 miles in one month, more than I have ever run. I use the app called “RunKeeper”. It tracks all my runs and gives me an updated graph showing me how close I am to my goal! It even sends me an email congratulating me when I do hit my goal! I am jazzed to run and then look at the updated graph! 140…here I come.

 4. Stay healthy.

It is no secret by now that what we put into our bodies and how we train our bodies has a direct effect on the amount of energy we have. And energy is a huge part of staying motivated.

If you are eating the wrong foods and are mostly sedentary during the day you are going to struggle to be energized about anything.

Experts suggest that we should eat 6 small nutritious meals per day and exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes. Add 64 ounces of water and seven hours of sleep per night and you will be maximizing your energy. When you feel good it’s much easier to stay motivated on a daily basis.

I know it’s hard to stay motivated. Life has a way of beating away at our energy. But it is possible to keep your fires burning with some key motivational practices. I don’t wake up every day excited to jump out of bed, but many days I do! I expect to have many more!

My advice: Treat motivation like bathing. You must do it every day!